On This Day in History, August 24

In 1857, the Oho Life Insurance and Trust Company experienced failure due to fraudulent activities committed by its management, bringing down both its New York office and its establishment in Ohio. Alongside the bursting of a railroad stock bubble, this incident led to the Panic of 1857, which with the increased interconnected nature of global economics and the telegraph, spread quickly and globally. American banks would not recover until post-Civil War.

In 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty went into effect, creating the military alliance of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO. Signed to counteract the USSR and prevent American military overstretch, twelve nations initially signed onto the treaty, being Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Since then, another 18 countries have joined.

In 1995, software developer Microsoft released Windows 95 to the general public. Combining aspects of their previously separate operating systems, 95 introduced features that would become commonplace for Windows, such as the Start button and the taskbar. 95 would be supported until 2001, despite its successor being replaced three years earlier.

A Notable Birth

1929 – Yasser Arafat (d. 2004) was a Palestinian political leader, having led both the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian National Authority. Born in Egypt, he initially held strongly anti-Zionist views, going as far as to fight against Israel. Over time, some of his views moderated and he eventually became willing to pursue a two-state solution.

A Notable Death

1804 – Margaret “Peggy” Shippen (b. 1760) was a spy during the American Revolution and the second wife of Benedict Arnold. Coming from a loyalist family, she ended up meeting Arnold following the British withdrawal from Philadelphia. Following their courtship and marriage, Benedict Arnold would eventually defect from the American cause and turn traitor.

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